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The right is obsessed with Critical Race Theory (CRT). It is hell-bent on censoring it where public schools are deprived of teaching students some inconvenient truths about the dark side of history in the United States.

The censoring of CRT will deprive students of a chance to gain knowledge of the U.S.’s racism in the past and the overt and institutional racism of today; and how they connect. After all, present conditions are the results of past events. The past influences the present. It is cause and effect. In turn, censoring CRT will make students, and people in general, ignorant of why and how racism still exists today and thus will put obstacles in the way to finding out how to eliminate racism in the future.

There is a group called the Alliance Defending Freedom. This entity published a “fact sheet” on October 4, 2021 and revised it on August 5, 2022 entitled “What is Critical Race Theory?” In its opposition to CRT, the argument it presents sounds sophisticated, but contains a number of flaws making its bottom-line message suspect.

It starts out saying, “Critical Race Theory (CRT) teaches that people are either ‘oppressor’ or ‘oppressed’, ‘good’ or ‘bad’ based on their race.” This is a simplistic claim that doesn’t get to the shades of gray regarding racial conflict. It seems to imply that in CRT, one race has to be totally “bad” while another is totally “good.” This isn’t realistic since there is good and bad in every race.

There is the claim that CRT wants to “tear down existing institutions and replace our constitutional form of government” as the only way to “stop racism.” This is another simplistic claim that ignores the shades of gray in CRT. Those who teach CRT probably have somewhat different ideas about it. But one of the goals of CRT is to eliminate institutional, and overt, racism. Does that mean tearing down existing institutions? It means tearing down the institutions that are inherently racist. What about “our constitutional form of government?” Likewise, it has the goal of tearing down only the racist aspects of government.

The sheet quoted Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic, authors of Critical Race Theory: An Introduction:

“The critical race theory (CRT) movement is a collection of activists and scholars interested in studying and transforming the relationship among race, racism, and power…Unlike traditional civil rights, which embraces incrementalism and step-by-step progress, critical race theory questions the foundations of the liberal order, including equality theory, legal reasoning, Enlightenment rationalism, and neutral principles of constitutional law.”

What in hell is wrong with transforming relationships that perpetuate racism, as well as homophobia, sexism and classism? The assertions from them also includes “step-by-step progress” and “incrementalism” as though that alone will guarantee real change. In reality, one can look at the civil rights movement and see that there was not only step-by-step progress, but also civil disobedience. Rosa Parks refused to sit in the back of a bus. Was that wrong? No. There were marches led by Martin Luther King which invited oppression from the racist establishment in the South. Was that wrong? No. These were necessary steps to push the political establishment into taking action.

The sheet mentions Martin Luther King and implies that proponents of CRT would be against his legacy based on race being the only thing that matters. First, the hypocrisy: whites have historically oppressed people of color based on race. Second, the statement is a wide generalization about people of color who support CRT. There are probably gray areas among supporters of CRT.

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Other claims: CRT rejects religious freedom and free speech. Another generalization. CRT rejects racism, both overt and institutionalized; CRT views fundamental freedoms as more ways to oppress the oppressed. But there is no doubt that among the oppressed there are CRT supporters. And the oppressed have largely been targets of white racism, past and present.

As with the Alliance Defending Freedom, there are like-minded individuals in politics who oppose CRT and have introduced bills to censor it. In an article published in The Atlantic (May 7, 2021) by Adam Harris, there is mention of Keith Ammon, a Republican of the New Hampshire House of Representatives who introduced a bill that bans “divisive concepts” like CRT. The bill would “forbid ‘race or sex scapegoating,’ questioning meritocracy” and not allowing the word, racist, to be used against New Hampshire and the United States itself.

Other states have been taking up the crusade. Among them, Arkansas where the state legislature approved a ban on CRT. Harris partially quoted the bill which states that there will be no promotion of “‘division between, resentment of, or social justice for’ groups based on race, gender or political affiliation.” The Idaho legislature passed a bill that would prohibit public schools from “compelling ‘students to personally affirm, adopt or adhere’ to specific beliefs about race, sex or religion.”’ Louisiana, likewise, is considering censoring CRT.

Meanwhile in Kentucky, there are Sens. Max Wise and Robby Mills who introduced the “Teaching American Principles Act.” Writing for People’s World (February 9, 2022), Berry Craig–a Kentuckian who is an emeritus professor at West Kentucky Community and Technical College in Paducah–asserted that the bill promotes censorship, “restricting the teaching of systemic racism in public schools.” The bill is supposed to promote the teaching of diverse topics without giving a preference to a particular topic. But it may ,e.g, present pro-slavery positions and anti-slavery positions as morally equivalent.

Craig boiled it down to the following regarding the purpose of the bill: “A teacher mustn’t make white students feel bad by telling the truth about whites enslaving black people and whites making black people second-class citizens.” Craig quoted Brian Clardy, a Murray, Ky., State University historian, who said the language of the bill “is Orwellian double-talk. How is shielding students from the brutal lessons of history going to benefit the intellectual and personal development of any student? The bill is lunacy.”

What those who oppose CRT have been doing is creating a moral panic. According to Thom Hartmann, writing in CounterPunch (February 4, 2022), he wrote specifically who the guilty parties are: libertarian billionaires, Republican Party leaders, multi-millionaire white evangelical preachers, white supremacist militia leaders, etc. Hartmann: “These are goal-oriented ‘crisis actors’ who’ve brought us the moral panic around Critical Race Theory that has now morphed into a book-banning frenzy.”

Hartmann quoted Betsy DeVos, the unqualified Education Secretary, who wanted to end unionized, public education: “Because wokeness is the left’s religion, ‘banning’ critical race Theory won’t fix the problem. The liberal education establishment will simply rename, rebrand, or repackage these insidious ideas to get around so-called bans.” So, according to DeVos and others of the right-wing establishment, wokeness is portrayed as a bad thing. But being woke means being aware or alert. And wokeness is preferable to ignorance, the latter of which is rampant among the right.

Students in U.S. public schools need an overall education about the United States, teaching the good and the bad. That can contribute to making real change. Here’s hoping that the censorship of CRT will eventually fail.

Crossposted from StarrNarrative.